November 18, 2002
SAN DIEGO -- It turns out the Chargers have heart after all.
A week after LaDainian Tomlinson questioned his team's desire following a late collapse in St. Louis, the Chargers rallied Sunday to beat the 49ers 20-17 in overtime.
Drew Brees got the Chargers into position and Steve Christie ended it with a 40-yard field goal 10:49 into overtime.
Christie got his chance because San Francisco's Jose Cortez was wide right on a 41-yard attempt. It was Cortez's fourth miss in three weeks, including two in regulation at Oakland on Nov. 3 before he won that game in overtime with a 23-yarder.
"If there was any question about their heart, I think that was dispelled," coach Marty Schottenheimer said. "This team has great heart. Just look at the games we've been in and how we've managed to hang on and win. And, yeah, we lost one last week, but you know what? Those other guys get paid, too."
Tomlinson changed his tone 180 degrees.
"The 49ers are a good team. We kept battling and we kept battling," he said. "That shows you what kind of heart this team has, to win a game like this."
The Chargers, who trailed 17-7 going into the fourth quarter, rallied to snap a two-game losing streak and kept pace with Denver for the AFC's best record.
San Francisco lost a chance to pull into a tie with Tampa Bay and Green Bay for the league's best record.
"We're usually better at the end of a game than we were today," 49ers coach Steve Mariucci said. Cortez "has done some good things for us this season, but he's also missed a few."
Brees was impressive in driving the Chargers to the tying score, a 1-yard pass to fullback Fred McCrary with 31 seconds left in regulation to tie it at 17 and force overtime.
In overtime, Brees threw passes of 19 yards to Tim Dwight and 18 to Eric Parker, a rookie who made his first catch.
Christie then hit his eighth OT field goal, second most in history to Jim Breech (nine).